The Yorkshire Ripper's two previous victims - Barbara Leach and Josephine Whitaker - were young women cut down in the flush of youth. If any proof were needed that Peter Sutcliffe was now intent on taking the lives of any woman, regardless of class, age or appearance it was provided with the murder of Marguerite Walls.
A civil servant with the Department of Education and Science in Pudsey, she was 47 years old at the time of her death and working late to catch up on her work prior to a holiday. Eventually leaving her office between 9:30 and 10:30, she set off on the short, half mile walk back to her home in Farsley.
Peter Sutcliffe was driving through the area, intending to revisit one of his old haunts - Chapel Town. Seeing Marguerite walking alone he acted impulsively, stopping the car ahead of her and attacking her with his hammer on the street. As he rained blows on her head he shouted "filthy prostitute".
He dragged her, still alive, into a high-walled garden where he kneeled on her chest and strangled her. Stripping her body of all of its clothing except her tights, he finally left her remains in peace.
When her body was found by two gardeners the following day, the difference in M.O. was enough to make Detective Chief Superintendent James Hobson declare to the police: "We do not believe this is the work of the Yorkshire Ripper." The use of a ligature to effect the strangulation didn't sit easily with the Ripper's other killings and initially the attack was put down to another killer.
As Sutcliffe would later tell the police, this was actually a calculated strategy:
"Because the press and the media had attached a stigma to me, I had been known for some time as the Yorkshire Ripper, which to my mind, didn't ring true at all. It was just my way of killing them, but actually I found that the method of strangulation was even more horrible and took longer." Peter Sutcliffe
As her murder wasn't considered to be a Ripper murder, the police believed that the killer was in a 'dormant phase' and Sutcliffe remained at large and would commit 4 further attacks (only one of which was 'successful') before his eventual apprehension that year.